A recent video on X shows several Jews in the Old City of Jerusalem spitting towards a group of Christians carrying a cross through the Old City of Jerusalem.
The video brought widespread condemnation from numerous public figures in Israel.
Israel's chief rabbi, Rabbi David Lau, responded: "During Sukkot, the [Jews] prayed and sacrificed in the Holy |Temple for the peace of the 70 nations of the world. We too will continue to pray for their welfare and honor all the nations that come to honor the holy city of Jerusalem. I strongly condemn improper behavior to any person and any religious leader. These wrongdoings certainly should not be attributed as having any connection to Jewish law."
Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz, Rabbi of the Western Wall and Holy Sites, said: "I vehemently condemn violence against believers in the Old City and all forms of violence. I call upon the leaders of all religions - we must do everything in our power to preserve the delicate fabric of the Old City, which is complex and challenging, in honor of our faiths and in honor of Jerusalem."
Minister of Religion Michael Malchieli said: "I strongly condemn the phenomenon of spitting at Christians in Jerusalem. This is not the way of the Torah, and there is no Rabbi who supports and legitimizes such despicable behavior. It is our duty to denounce this, and we will continue to respect all nations that come to the gates of the Holy City."
Yehoda Vald, CEO of the Religious Zionism Party, added: "This is uncivil and unnecessary hostility. And as [the person who did so] uses Rabbi Kook as support for his words, he should learn a little from Rabbi Kook and his students like Rabbi Shlomo Aviner."
Haredi journalist Yanki Farber wrote: "Listen, you are hopeless, the blood of every Jew who is harmed abroad because of your words is on your hands, you need to go for [psychiatric] observation."
The chairman of UTJ, Yitzhak Goldknopf, commented: "I was shocked to hear about the phenomenon of an attack in the so-called 'name of Judaism'. Our holy Torah commands us to behave with respect towards every person, regardless of their faith, religion or origin. I condemn this behavior."
Ethics expert Rabbi Yuval Cherlow commented: "During the period when we were at war for our spiritual existence in exile, against those who saw in us a faith that did not deserve to exist - we spat on their places of worship [in response]. Now that we are independent in our own country and responsible for everyone who is within it - we are no longer allowed to act this way for any reason."
Minister of Tourism Haim Katz noted that "the saying that spitting on Christians is an ancient and even acceptable custom is unfortunate. And to love your neighbor like yourself is 'a great rule in the Torah' and the main one in it (referring to a saying by the Mishnaic Sage Rabbi Akiva). Instead of being a light unto the natons, the actions of a handful of extremists change Judaism and harm the Jewish people, the image of Israel and tourism. Zero tolerance must be shown towards disrespect to religious symbols of any kind.
Channel 12 News commentator Amit Segal commented on a tweet by Hilltop Youth activist Elisha Yered that justified the incident.
"What connection is there between normal pople and this hate attack?", Segal wondered and added, "We are talking about ignoramuses and boors who do not know about Rabbi Kook's participation in the funerals of Anglican priests, the exchange of letters with them - and we are dealing with an overgrown child who never erected a barrier between his thoughts and his mouth."
"This is the reason why he left MK Limor Son Har-Melech's office, on the grounds that the coalition was too left-wing. His Judaism is a Cossack version of the biblical Yoav, son of Tsruyah, minus the military service," Segal wrote, referring to King David's commander in chief whose unrestrained actions met with the king's disapprobation..
Yered, as mentioned, justified the act, and even claimed that Rabbi Kook did not condemn similar acts. "It's a good time to mention that the custom of spitting next to priests or churches is an ancient and long-standing Jewish custom, and there is even a special blessing in Halakha when you see a church, 'Who restrains Himself towards those who transgress His will' - a blessing that comes to praise God, who does not punish the bad deeds of idolators and does not punish them Instantly. Perhaps under the influence of Western culture we have somewhat forgotten what Christianity is, but I think that the millions of Jews who went through the crusades, tortures of the Inquisition, blood libels and mass pogroms will never forget," he wrote and quoted from Rabbi Kook's book which he linked to the case, omitting that if this derisive act towards Christian symbols did occur, it certainly was not in public.
He was backed by another well-known Hilltop Youth figure, Meir Ettinger. "Amit Segal demonstrates here not only the well-known correlation between ignorance and arrogance, but even more, that, his Judaism is nothing more than an improved version of various movements since Mendelssohn (18th century German scholar who criticized Jewish belief, ed.) who took what they liked from Judaism and mocked what in their eyes seemed to be ridiculous. All of them, by the way, became footnotes [in history]. In essence, the spitting on the cross is not spitting on priests but spitting on pagan worship that the Torah commanded that we detest, an idea which the neo-religious, who believe Judaism equal to all other religions, would be happy to uproot."
"Actually - from my knowledge - many Rabbis, including the Rabbis of religious Zionism, tend to spit when they see a cross, and when they see superficial journalists like these, for whom the Jewish faith is equal in value to that of Christians, in contrast, one can understand the importance of inculcating the distance from and abhorrence of idolatry - the first commandment in the Ten Commandments," Ettinger claimed.